28 August 2014

Sketchbookery and early weekending

It's a bit of a blurry day as we rush around here getting things ready to leave tomorrow.  Also, since M starts school the day after we get back, I am desperately trying to finish the laundry, label his effects and make sure we're not missing anything (like markers for instance...).  And I need to get some grocery shopping done tonight.  Ah, the joys of travelling.  

On a brighter and happier side, the kids are finished washing the hall mirrors, one of the bathrooms is clean (hallelujah!), dinner is done simmering in the crockpot (chilli if you wondered) and I am popping in here to wish you a happy (early) long weekend!  

May your days be filled with many such cups.  And may your cups run over.

27 August 2014

Final days of summer

I am hearing everywhere how people are leaving their usual work by the wayside to embrace the final days of summer.  This is what is happening here too.  To such an extent in fact that I have neglected this space a little as well!  Also, I am not much in the habit of bringing my camera, so many times I have no photo mementoes.  I guess I'm just too busy living life these days to document it.  

Peaches are where we're at these days.  Ripe, fuzzy, juicy, peachy-smelling peaches.  We don't grow our own of course, at least not yet, but we do so love our Ontario farmer's market peaches!  

We got out to Rockpoint Conservation Area last weekend, which we really loved exploring.  It was a nice treat to spend time there with some dear friends as well.  Barbecuing in the park is always more fun with more!

Our balcony garden is actually not winding down like I expected.  No sir.  We will be starting up our fall radishes next week.  Also hoping to get in some garlic sown before the winter sets in.  Our spinach keeps sprouting no matter how often I cut it.  I love that plant.  Honestly.  One of my favourites.  Also, the parsley seems to be loving the cool spell we've been having.  I've had to face the jungle and given both pots a good trim several times.  Peppers are popping off the vine pretty regularly.  Tomatoes are slow, but every couple of days, a kid will wander outside and harvest a reddened globe.  It's a slow, satisfying harvest.  Even if we don't make pots of salsa, sauce, diced or crushed or roasted tomatoes.  We are beginning.  That is enough for me.  

We went to the library this week to finish off the last summer reading club visit.  If I've never said it, I'll say it now: my kids love the library.  I love the library.  Anyhow, we took out a book which I was a little apprehensive about initially.  It's called "The Day Louis Got Eaten" by John Fardell.  It's not classic lit or anything profound, but I wasn't sure how they would take the plot.  (Basically, a boy gets eaten by a fictional "Gulper" who gets eaten by something else, who gets eaten by something else, etc and his sister goes after him to save him.)  Can I just say that my kids LOVE this book.  They've memorized it.  They ask for us to read it to them every day, multiple times.  It's hilarious to them in some weird way.  And here I was afraid they'd be scared.  Anyone else have an experience like this?  It's my first.  

On Friday we are off to Michigan for a last family trip to Dormition before school starts.  I think this is fast becoming tradition in our family.  Soak up quiet beauty in prayer and meditation, calm the soul so tossed about, refocus.  They seem to come naturally at this time.  As if a timer goes off in our heads: "Ah yes, time to dust out the cobwebs, nourish the soul and prepare for Fall."  

Well, I have one more day to pack and a to-do list the size of my washing machine.  Which, incidentally has been running smoothly and regularly for the past few days.  (In my house, no laundry = death.)  I would love to get my house cleaned before leaving, but that might be biting off more than I can chew.  We'll see.  Loving this summer and hope you are too!

PS - My kids like to take turns experiment with the camera when I let them.  Sometimes we get some weird photos.  Like this one.  My son took this shot.  (Gotta love that dear-caught-in-the-headlights expression.) 

20 August 2014

Art Attack

This is my very first weekly art attack post!  :)  

I've decided, rather ambitiously, to start a regular weekly post.  It will feature my artwork.  A rather loose definition, but purposely done.  It might be a traditional drawing, it might be food art.  Whatever.  The purpose is to motivate myself to pick up my pencil (or brush or whatever-other-tool) more often.  I am not a trained artist, but I love creating art.  For me, the process is more precious than the product.  (Ah, alliterations...)  

So.  I am choosing to swallow my pride and insecurities and share a page of my sketchbook each week.  Maybe someone else, coming across this post, will be inspired by simple mediocrity to embrace their own inner artist!   

Won't you join me?

A quick pencil and ink drawing of our (small!) condo living room.

18 August 2014

In the garden and around the house

There is something special about being able to go out to my "garden" in the mornings and pick what I need for the day's cooking.  I feel joyful, wealthy, and somehow connected to God in a profound way - studying His handiwork.   It's really a priceless feeling.  

Today my nieces are over (we had a sleepover!) and we made kefta.  So I needed parsley.  Thankfully my parsley patch was in need of a good haircut.  I was only too happy to oblige.  Yesterday we make carrot cake cupcakes.  Mini cupcakes.  They were delicious.  

As an aside, I love making things in bite-sized pieces.  Then I don't feel so bad when I eat 3 or 4!  (That's only like one big cupcake, right?!)  I gotta work on my self-control.  

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get out the pencils and do some drawing.  A little change of pace from the constant kitchen work.  I think the kids will enjoy it too.  It's been my experience anyhow that when I sit down and draw, they rather suddenly wish to do the same.  And so we usually sit together - at least for some of the time.  It's a perfect arrangement.

Hoping your day is cheery!

15 August 2014

In my kitchen

The kitchen is the heartbeat of our home.  There is always something going on here.  Always a gathering of bodies.  Here are some of the things we've been up to during the week...

*                      *                         *                          *                     *                       *                       *

I am late sharing this, but sometimes I have to slow down a bit more than usual.  Especially when sickness knocks on our door.  It has been unseasonably cold these past few days and I'm thinking that's what accounts for the nasty virus we've all caught?  Anyhow.  C'est la vie.  

:: Roasted eggplant before becoming babaghanoush

:: A batch of homemade granola (this one for a friend)  

:: Marinating shrimp in garlic, olive oil, and lemon before ending up as dinner.  It is a feast day today and feast days are a special affair in our home.  :)  

:: Fresh spinach (and lettuce and mint) from the garden for our salad.  (Some of the peppers for the pasta were from our garden, but these two were not.)

:: Making donuts.  Then eating them of course!  I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you've ever had fresh warm, donuts, life become so much more delicious.  

:: As mentioned, our table is not always for food and eating.  Elaborate train tracks, for example, are perfectly at home here.  

Wishing you fullness in your own kitchen!

Joining Heather and friends for This Week In My Kitchen blog hop.  

14 August 2014

The studio & a surprise

A quick peek into the studio today:

It gets a little messy around here when any sewing project starts up.  Kids eating on the floor, toys all over the place, dishes pile up in the sink.  It's worth it though.  I find sewing just as therapeutic as crocheting.  It's just not as easy to get to, so it does involve a measure of planning.  This is the fabric for J's messenger bag.  I've finished cutting it out and just have to pin it together.  (Except I ran out of fabric for the strap, so at some point I'll need to head off to fabric land.)  I'm hoping to have it done either for Christmas or her birthday.  At first I thought it was too much time, but after a few false starts, I'm thinking it's about right.  I have a few other projects on the go and time flies around here.  Also, the kids get sick a lot in winter time?  My experience from last year.  

As of yesterday morning, we are finished with the blueberry jam, I think.  Moving on to peach preserves!  If we find the time, that is.  For some reason this year is a little slow with the preserving.  

Yesterday I spent the day at my parents' house.  The kids had a wonderful time, as always, running, playing, eating, laughing and enjoying the space.  When we got back late last night, a package was waiting for me.  It was from my blog swap partner, who outdid herself with a wonderful pile of goodies!  The kids love the mini-quilt and have claimed it for their dolls, animals and even themselves!    Also, they were itching to try the dandelion salve, which I rescued from their sticky hands.  :)  

My talented and new friend Yanic, thank you for making our day perfect with your sweet gifts!   

12 August 2014

Goodies & planning

Well, I sent off my package yesterday for the swap.  Just on time.  I couldn't decide what to send - too many ideas.  Perhaps that's how I came to send out so many little things - lip balm, tooth powder, gift tags, a cotton tea towel, a lion rock and an owl mask.  (The last two are little extras, if you will, for a smaller person of the household.)  Now I can look forward to my own sometime this week or next.  I still can't get over what a great idea this is.  I have already started getting in touch with some ladies in my area to plan a gift swap like this in person.  Hopefully around early November.  Before cold season hits in full force.  (Gotta be practical with little ones...)

I have almost finished planning our goals for this coming school year.  It sounds funny to say that because we're not technically homeschooling.  So why the planning?  Well, the kids and I work together during the year.  Mostly in the mornings before we head out to the bus stop.  Sometimes in the evenings too if M wants to.  Even little J loves to sit with Mama and learn.  During the summer we do the most.  Lots of exploring and discovering together, especially with our little garden and all the insects and animals we see around.  (Even in the city, you'd be surprised what you can see!)  There are no lessons involved of course.  Just curious kids and an equally curious mama.  I love working with them - taking cues from their passions, their interests.  It's not work to them at all.  (That, I think, is a huge benefit of homeschooling: the ability to follow the child's lead in learning so as to make education something effortless and exciting without it being dry work.)  I am grateful for the time I have with each of them.  Especially when I can get them one on one.  That is golden time.  Rare mind you, but jackpot gold.  

So yes, I am almost done our "planning".  I am a planner, by the way.  At least, I like to have a roadmap.  I have no issues detouring, not completing things, or changing course along the way.  I just like to know where I am heading.  And should that change, fine.  Just give me a direction please.  Wandering around in the dark is not my cup of tea.  No sir.  

We are finishing up some jam this week.  We've also gone swimming almost every day.  Yesterday we took some of M's model knights with us to the park and we played with them together.  Even mama.  That was great fun.  We built pretend fires for them to camp out in the forest using little sticks, wood chips and dried leaves.  Then they travelled to the desert (sandbox) where we encountered sandstorms aplenty and had to bury the knights with their steeds during each.  I wish I had remembered to bring the camera.  And then the knights took a bath in the tub.  What a great day.  

PS - This cauliflower did not last.  Not even a full day.  And I made a very large batch.  It's that good.  Even people who don't like cauliflower love this.  If you never have, you HAVE to try this recipe.